Residence Ensemble Schwerin
Residence Ensemble Schwerin - Cultural Landscape of Romantic Historicism is part of the Tentative list of Germany in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
The Residence Ensemble Schwerin represents a 19th century grand ducal court in the style of romantic historicism. Schwerin's lake landscape provides the picturesque backdrop for the ensemble of palace, town and gardens. The Schwerin Castle is the heart of the property, but the ensemble also includes the Cathedral and the Schelf Church with the ducal tombs, the barracks, administrative and functional buildings such as the stables and the court laundry.
Map of Residence Ensemble SchwerinLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Residence Ensemble Schwerin – Cultural Landscape of Romantic Historicism: The full name of the TWHS indicates that it is about more than the Schwerin Castle with its gardens. And Indeed, the description on the Unesco website mentions a number of other buildings, and this nomination website lists a total of 43 elements. Not only around the castle but also in the city centre and around the artificially Pfaffenteich (Priest's pond).
Two or three decades ago this site would certainly have been nominated as "Schwerin Castle and Gardens" with the focus on the architectural features of historicism. And most likely, they would have been successful and Schwerin would now be on the WH list. But today this category is over-represented, especially also in Germany. Thus, the nomination was extended to all preserved buildings from the 19th century, a "cultural landscape" was created and referred to as a "residence ensemble".
Although I gave Schwerin a "thumbs down" because I think the WH list doesn't need more castles and parks, I have to admit that Schwerin is worth a visit. I visted Schwerin in August 2020 and really enjoyed my day strolling through the gardens and exploring the city centre.
The heart of Schwerin is the castle, its location on a small island on the shore of Lake Schwerin is really beautiful. Today the castle houses the parliament of the federal state Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the castle museum. But on such a sunny, hot summer day I skipped the museum and preferred to take a long walk through the gardens and along the lake shore. Certainly the highlight of my visit.
In the city centre and around the Pfaffenteich are the other buildings that belonged to the Grand Ducal court or were somehow connected to it. As expected, the theatre, the museum, the cathedral and several other churches and palaces are included. But you will also find the impressively large stables on their own peninsula and such buildings as the former stables for sick horses, the court laundry or the bedding and linen store. The sheer size of these outbuildings is impressive and indicates the size and importance of the Grand Ducal court. Most of these buildings are not accessible, they are used by the federal state administration or have been converted into residential buildings. And just to look at the façades does not offer much insight into life at a Grand Ducal court.
All in all, I'm not in favour of an inscription. But after such experiences as the Naumburg nomination, I would not be surprised if, after long discussions, at least Schwerin Castle would be included in the WH list.
I visited this tentative WHS in October 2014 on my way back from my road trip to Bremen, Hamburg, Lübeck and Wismar. The Schwerin Castle ensemble is only 40 minutes away by car from Wismar and around 50 minutes away from Schalsee, a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
The Schwerin Castle ensemble is definitely on par with other inscribed properties on the WH list such as Muskauer Park in Germany/Poland or Lednice Palace in Czechia and although it doesn't add anything particularly new to the list, on a sunny day it is a very enjoyable visit (when in the area). Its construction was also inspired by the Renaissance châteaux of the Loire Valley such as Chambord.
The Schwerin Castle and its gardens are situated on an island in the city's main lake, Lake Schwerin, and after visiting the whole ensemble I'd recommend walking towards Lennestrasse and Franzosenweg for a fabulous waterside view from one of the 3 cafeterias (Ruderhaus, Ambiente am See or Schlossbucht).
Schwerin castle may be a bit overlooked, but its beauty is undeniable. It is the kind of fairy-tale castle that is nowadays more associated with disney than with real historical buildings. Schwerin residence actually has a quite large historical basis, with bits and pieces of history shining through the 19th century rebuildings. Its main appearance is certainly a sometimes kitchy historism (who paints his castle yellow/orange?), but together with a very picturesque setting on a lake, next to the historic old city, makes the visit a very pleasant experience. Schwerin is quite easy to reach, being close to Wismar and Lübeck. The castle can be reached by foot from the railroad station. Compared to its main rival on the tentative list, Neuschwanstein, Schwerin has much more history (Neuschwanstein being newly built in the 19th century), but is a bit more low-key than the bavarian fanatasy castle. I fear that the decision will go more in the direction of Neuschwanstein, being a peak of historism.
Visited May 2015.
Importance: 3/5 Beauty: 5/5 Uniqueness: 3/5 Environment: 4/5 Experience: 4/5
2015 Added to Tentative List
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